Gender and the give and take of emotions in the workplace
This paper focuses on the role of gender in shaping emotional expressions and alignment—the tendency for people to match the emotional expressions of their conversation partners in language-based communication—at work. People have natural tendencies to express emotions and tend to sort into conversation with others who have similar propensities. To varying degrees, people also actively adjust their emotional expressions to align with those of their conversation partner. The latter, I argue, is a form of emotion work. I develop a theoretical account that helps to reconcile two competing expectations about gender and emotional expressions. On one hand, men are socialized to contain their emotions, whereas women are socialized to express emotions. On the other hand, women in the workplace often suffer greater penalties and backlash than men when they express emotions. I propose that the tendency for men and women to express emotions depends on the valence of the emotion being expressed: men have greater license to express negative emotions, while women are licensed to express positive emotions. I further argue that women face more diffuse emotional obligations than men, making women more likely than men to adapt their tendencies to align to their colleagues’ emotions. I test these ideas using the content of 425,649 one-to-one email message threads exchanged over six years among 710 full-time employees at a mid-sized technology firm. To account for selection of individuals into conversations on the basis of similarity in emotional expression tendencies, I employ a word-based hierarchical alignment model that distinguishes base rates of word usage from alignment in response to others' language use. Overall, people express six times more positive than negative emotion in the workplace. Men are 16.0% more likely to express negative emotions, whereas women are 11.4% more likely to express positive emotions. Women align more to negative emotions than men. However, both men and women align to a similar extent towards their colleague’s positive emotional expressions. I discuss the implications of these findings for research on emotions, gender, and workplace inequality.
* Job market paper
race, place, and crime: how violent crime events affect employment discrimination
This article examines how exposure to violent crime events affects employers’ decisions to hire black job applicants with and without a criminal record. Results of a quasi-experimental research design drawing on a correspondence study of 368 job applications submitted to 184 hiring establishments in Oakland, California and archival data of crime events indicate that callback rates were 11 percentage points lower for black job applicants than for white or Hispanic applicants and 12 percentage points lower for those with a criminal record relative to those without one. Recent exposure to nearby violent crimes further reduced employers’ likelihood of calling back black job applicants by 10 percentage points, regardless of whether or not they had a criminal record, but did not have the same effect on callback rates for white or Hispanic applicants.
Revise and resubmit at American Journal of Sociology
* Winner of Best Student Paper Award for the American Sociological Association Crime, Law, and Deviance Section
What is Cultural Fit? from cognition to behavior (and back)
(with amir goldberg and sameer b. srivastava)
How people fit into social groups is a core topic of investigation across multiple sociological subfields, including education, immigration, and organizations. In this chapter, we synthesize findings from these literatures to develop an overarching framework for conceptualizing and measuring the level of cultural fit and the dynamics of enculturation between individuals and social groups. We distinguish between the cognitive and behavioral dimensions of fitting in, which previous work has tended to either examine in isolation or to conflate. Reviewing the literature through this lens enables us to identify the strengths and limitations of unitary—that is, primarily cognitive or primarily behavioral—approaches to studying cultural fit. In contrast, we develop a theoretical framework that integrates the two perspectives and highlights the value of considering their interplay over time. We then identify promising theoretical pathways that can link the two dimensions of cultural fit. We conclude by discussing the implications of pursuing these conceptual routes for research methods and provide some illustrative examples of such work.
Forthcoming in Wayne H. Brekhus and Gabe Ignatow (Editors), The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Sociology.
Seeing Social Structure: Assessing the Accuracy of Interpersonal Judgments about Social Networks
(with sameer b. srivastava AND DANA R. CARNEY)
Even in brief or routine interactions, people constantly make judgments about others’ social worlds and their positions in social structure. These inferences matter in contexts as diverse as hiring, venture capital funding, and courtship encounters. Yet it remains unclear whether people are accurate in assessing the social networks in which others are embedded and, if so, which behavioral cues perceivers use to form these impressions. Drawing on the “thin-slicing” paradigm in social psychology and data on over 4,276 judgments made by 586 perceivers about 23 strangers, we find that people can accurately infer the size and composition of others’ networks. They are not, however, accurate in “seeing” the structure of relationships surrounding an individual.